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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Boise, Idaho » Northwest Watershed Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #331267

Research Project: Assessment, Conservation and Management of Rangelands in Transition

Location: Northwest Watershed Research Center

Title: Assessment of range planting as a conservation practice

Author
item Hardegree, Stuart
item Jones, Thomas
item ROUNDY, BRUCE - Brigham Young University
item SHAW, NANCY - Us Forest Service (FS)
item Monaco, Thomas

Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/28/2016
Publication Date: 7/1/2016
Citation: Hardegree, S.P., Jones, T.A., Roundy, B., Shaw, N., Monaco, T.A. 2016. Assessment of range planting as a conservation practice. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 69:237-247.

Interpretive Summary: NRCS assists private-land owners in developing conservation management plans to improve rangeland productivity and species composition. The Range Planting Conservation Practice Standard provides specific guidance for seedbed preparation, planting methods, plant materials selection, seeding rate, seeding depth, timing of seeding and weed control. We surveyed the journal literature on these range seeding practices and determined that the literature as a whole supports Range Seeding Conservation Practice recommendations. Conservation Practice Standards assume that successful implementation of recommended practices will have the following positive conservation effects: improved forage for wildlife and livestock; improved wildlife habitat; improved water quality and quality; decreased erosion; and increased carbon sequestration. There are very few studies directly linking rangeland seeding to specific conservation effects. The literature does support the underlying assumptions, however, that successful changes in the underlying vegetation state have positive conservation benefits. NRCS Conservation Practice Standards could be improved to more directly address spatial and temporal variability in site conditions, and longer-term issues relevant to adaptive management and later-successional plant-community processes.

Technical Abstract: Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Range Planting - Conservation Practice Standards provide guidelines for making decisions about seedbed preparation, planting methods, plant materials selection, seeding rate, seeding depth, timing of seeding, post-planting management, and weed-control. Adoption of these standards is expected to contribute to successful improvement of vegetation composition and productivity of grazed plant communities but also to result in some specific conservation effects such as: improved forage for livestock; improved forage, browse or cover for wildlife; improved water quality and quantity; reduced wind or water erosion; and increased carbon sequestration. The success of specific conservation practices, and magnitude of conservation effects, are both highly dependent upon ecological-site characteristics, the initial degree of deviation from desired site characteristics, and weather, all of which are highly variable in both time and space. Previous research has produced very few studies directly linking range-planting conservation practices to conservation effects. Assessment of conservation-effects attributed to rangeland-planting practices must, therefore, be separated into two components: evidence of the degree to which specific management practices have been shown to result in desirable vegetation change; and evidence supporting positive conservation-effects of alternative vegetation states. The aggregate literature generally supports both the existing conservation practice recommendations for rangeland seeding, and the inherent assumption that if these practices are successful, they will result in beneficial conservation effects. Current conservation practice recommendations, however, are relatively prescriptive, and could be improved to more directly address spatial and temporal variability in site conditions, and longer-term issues relevant to adaptive management and later-successional plant-community processes.